The mother of the alleged Iranian sympathizer accused of attacking Salman Rushdie has revealed how her US-raised son took a month-long trip to the Middle East and came back a religious fanatic, reports the Daily Mail.
Silvana Fardos has revealed in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com that she expected her son Hadi Matar to return ‘motivated’ from the 2018 trip, but instead her once outgoing and popular son returned an ‘introverted’ in a bad mood”.
He would lock himself in the basement and refuse to speak to his family for months, she added.
As FBI agents raided her Fairview, New Jersey home on Friday afternoon, it was the first time she learned of acclaimed author Rushdie’s frantic stabbing.
Silvana said FBI agents seized a number of items from her son’s basement apartment, including a computer, PlayStation, books, knives and a tool for sharpening blades.
“I got a call from my daughter. I was at work and she told me the FBI was there – I was in shock,” Silvana, 46, told DailyMail.com.
Rushdie’s life has been under threat since 1989, when the late Ayatollah Khomeini – leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution – issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death for his famous book “The Satanic Verses”.
Silvana, who is Lebanese and born Muslim, said she was unsure if her son had ever read Rushdie’s book, but detected that he had become more religious since his trip.
She added that he would blame her for not giving him a strict Muslim upbringing.
“I just can’t believe he was capable of doing something like this. He was very calm, everyone loved him. Like I told the FBI, I won’t bother talking to him again. He is responsible for his actions, ”continued the mother of the arrested person.
She added: “I still have two minors to take care of. They are upset and shocked. All we can do is try to move on without him.
“To tell you the truth, I had never heard of this writer before. I’ve never read any of his books, I didn’t even know such a writer existed. I had no idea my son had read his book,” she explained.
Matar was born in the United States to Lebanese parents who emigrated from the southern border town of Yaroun, a stronghold of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.
He grew up and went to school in Cudahy, California before his mother divorced his father Hassan Matar in 2004. Her ex-husband returned to the Middle East while she moved to New Jersey to a new start.
It was during a trip to Lebanon in 2018 to visit his father that Hadi transformed from a popular and loving son into a moody introvert, according to Silvana.
“The first hour he arrived, he called me, he wanted to come back. He stayed for about 28 days but the trip didn’t go well with his dad, he felt very lonely,” she told DailyMail.com.
“I expected him to come back motivated, finish school, get his degree and get a job. But instead, he locked himself in the basement. He had changed a lot. He didn’t tell me or his sisters for months.
Silvana Fardos said she couldn’t say more about her son’s life since 2018 as he would ignore her and stay in isolation.
“He sleeps during the day and wakes up and eats at night. He lives in the basement. He cooks his own food.
Silvana had noticed her son becoming more religious and he would blame her for not giving him a strict Muslim upbringing.
“He also banned her from entering his basement abode which is directly below the $700,000 four-bed house where she lives with her 14-year-old twin sisters,” she observed. .
“He once argued with me wondering why I encouraged him to study instead of focusing on religion. He was angry that I hadn’t introduced him to Islam as early as his youngest age,” Silvana added.
She said she had led a simple life there for 26 years, trying to keep a roof over her family’s heads and feed her children.
“I don’t care about politics, I’m not religious. I was born a Muslim and that’s it. I did not push my children to religion or impose anything on my son. I don’t know anyone in Iran, my whole family is here.
Matar, whose now-deleted Facebook page is plastered with photos of Iranian politicians, rushed to the stage Friday morning at a literary festival in upstate New York at Rushdie’s announcement.
He stabbed the Booker Prize-winning author multiple times before being pinned to the ground by horrified witnesses and apprehended by a state trooper.
Rushdie was airlifted to hospital and placed on a ventilator, but has since recovered enough to speak and remains “fiery and defiant” himself, his son Zafar said on Monday.
It was understood that Matar was using a fake driver’s license under the name Hassan Mughniyah when he carried out the botched assassination.
The current leader of Hezbollah is called Hassan Nasrallah while one of its most notorious commanders was called Imad Mughniyeh. Her address was listed as an apartment in West New York, New Jersey, but the owner of the unit told DailyMail.com she had never heard of Matar or Mughniyeh.
Matar has never had a job, never had a girlfriend, but joined a local boxing gym three months ago before abruptly canceling his membership last week.
Despite his growing zeal for Islam, he never dressed differently, leading Silvana to hope that this was just a passing phase.
“When I heard that he had joined a gym, I was happy,” added his mother, a specialist assistant teacher and Arabic translator in high school.
“I had encouraged him to find a job, to go back to school. He actually started a job a few months ago at Marshalls,” she said, adding, “He even told me he was going back to school in September to study cybersecurity, which made me happy. excited a lot.
“I felt like he was in a long term depression and now it was time for him to recover and come back to life, back to his family.”
Fighting back tears, she added: “I didn’t watch the video of what happened, I don’t want to. All I know is what was written.
“The FBI gave me a document to sign saying they took his computer, his PlayStation, books, other items including knives and a pencil sharpener. I feel sorry for Mr. Rushdie. I hope that he will recover, but I cannot say or do anything because it was not my act,” she added.